1: INVITATION FROM ALLAH
rings true for most of us. Every year we have an intention to do
Hajj and the year quickly passes by and we don't go to Hajj. This
year was special. I had an intention to do Hajj (again) but this
time all of a sudden a few of my close friends said they also had
the same intention. Within a week or two, there was five of us ready
to perform Hajj. We were all excited and started planning and making
preparations for Hajj.
I think this
was because Ramadhan had just passed and we were all feeling good,
full charged with deen and Iman. Allah invited only those who he
chooses. We started planning the trip, got our money together, applied
for our visas and made provisions for our businesses and families.
We have to bear in mind that it is not the Saudi authorities that
determine whether we will be performing Hajj but its only those
that are invited by Allah that make the Hajj. I felt that everything
was okay when we received the okay from the Saudis and they gave
us the visa. However I know better now, only those Allah chooses
are invited to perform Hajj.
One of my first
friends had a death in the Family. His brother suddenly passed away
and he had to make preparations to go back to Turkey very quickly.
My second friend couldn't get anyone to look after his business
and children if both him and his wife went to perform Hajj this
year. One of the elder brothers also had similar family problems.
His son was going through a rough patch with his wife. He had to
rush to London to help sort the problems out between them. He too
said sorry Hammy, its my kismat I can't go to Hajj this year. The
fourth brother had more family problems. There had been a racist
attack on his family in London. This involved stabbings and arrests.
He immediately left for London to support and help his family.
I was number
five in the group and I was all alone. I was probably the least
prepared from all the five brothers! When I realised that I was
the last person in our small group, I was gutted and started getting
second thoughts about going to Hajj. I started making excuses for
myself trying to talk myself out of going to Hajj - I was basically
getting cold feet.
I had looked forward to performing this Hajj with these close brothers.
We would have had a good time in Allah's house, in the land of our
beloved prophet, with these special close friends. One of the brothers
had been before recently and he was going to show us everything,
from start to finish. I still remember he use to say, " Don't
worry, I will show you everything and make sure that you don't make
any mistakes". He use to encourage me and gave me confidence.
I got the urge
from Allah, this was my time I had to go and I felt I must go this
time to Hajj. Allah will look after me and Allah will make sure
I will be okay. I left everything to Allah, I put my trust in Allah
and began making preparations. The brothers that were suppose to
be going in our group helped as much as they could in my preparations.
They got me books, videos, Cds and started teaching me the Duas
that I needed to learn. It was as if a part of them was going with
me through all this effort. One of the brothers helped me by giving
me some Riyal from some previous journey to Saudi Arabia. When you
land in Jeddah, there is nothing worse than having no small currency
to buy or pay for things.
I was working
away in the shop and a brother came into the shop, he was smiling
from ear to ear, as if he had won the lottery. He said, "Ahmed,
Ahmed I am going to Hajj this year". I said "Are you sure
you are going? You make the intention every year". He said
"Inshallah, I am going with a group from the Stirling Mosque
this year". He told me about the other brothers that were going
and I quickly became part of this group.
I continued to make my preparations for Hajj. I rushed around and
got everything in order, sorted my business and all other affairs.
I said my goodbyes and phoned all my relatives and friends, here
and abroad. I was ready to go.
The day before
I was rushing about and could not find suitable slippers that I
need to wear when I landed in Cairo. In Cairo, we would be stopping
off at the airport for 2 hours, giving us a chance to put on our
Ihrams and read some Nafals. If I could not find some suitable slippers
(or flip flops) I saw myself walking around with ihram but without
any slippers on! I thought maybe someone might have a spare pair
in my new Hajj group or something might materialise from somewhere.
I left it in Allah's hands.
to meet the last of my closest friends, The first brother I visited,
was one of my original Hajj brothers who couldn't go this year,
he said don't worry I have a pair at home. He left his shop and
ran home and got me a pair. Alhamdulillah, Allah provides - I had
lost hope in getting slippers and not only did Allah give me a pair
of slippers but they were a designer pair!
The night before,
I was excited like a little kid who is going to Disney world. I
read over my little Hajj book over and over again as I waited for
the time to pass. We were leaving at 4am, well before Fajar. I had
a shower, prayed two Nafl namaz and kissed the family goodbye. They
were still asleep as I headed for the Masjid, the first meeting
point. It was an emotional rollercoaster. I was so excited and wanted
to get on the plane at the same time I was already missing the family,
we had barely spent a day apart. I have never seen anyone laugh
and cry at the same time before!
me with the companionship of about thirty Muslims from our community.
Two of the families were very close friends whom I considered to
be my family. I knew I was going to be okay. As all the Hajjis starting
coming to the Masjid in their ones and twos, the time for Fajar
was creeping closer and the time to leave for the airport was also
closing in on us.
As I sat in
the masjid, one of the brothers had decided to go to Hajj three
day earlier, came into the Masjid. He had no Ihram, no extra clothes,
no extra money, no food and didn't have the luxury of a few weeks
preparations to get ready for the Hajj. He had the most important
thing, yes more important than his visa, extra clothes, ihram…
he had on overwhelming urge to perform the Hajj, he had the invitation
from Allah to visit his house and perform the Hajj.
together and he soon had an ihram, slippers and everything he needed
to perform the Hajj, This was the reality of Islam, this person
whom none of us had ever seen before was now our brother, our responsibility,
our Hajj companion! I sat back and saw the concern that the brothers
had for him and the way they rushed together to get some things
together. I prayed to Allah in my heart that this spirit of true
brotherhood, love and concern should be with us all the time. This
example of true brotherly love, no backbiting, no envy or jealousy,
no anger, no looking down on anyone - just a need to help this brother!
The sound of
the Azan filled the Masjid and we were at peace. The excitement
mellowed down slightly as I reflected on the journey before us.
After Salah we would be taking our first steps like millions before
us on this momentous of all journeys. This would be after the Fajr